Tunisians weren’t who you might think. Based on a recent genetic studies report conducted by National Geographic, only 4% of Tunisians are actually of Arab origin.
Now scientists are delivering new answers to the question of who Tunisians really are and where they came from. Their findings suggest that the country has been a melting pot since ancient time. Tunisians living today, are a varying mix of people originally from North Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Europe.
This reference population is based on people native to Tunisia. Tunisia’s location in the Mediterranean region contributes to its broad genetic diversity. Mainly, North African. European and Arabian components are also present.
The Arabian component likely arrived in two waves, one with the arrival of agriculture from the Middle East beginning around 8,000 years ago, and one with the Islamic conquest of the seventh century. Tunisians also carry components from other regions of Africa, such as Western and Central Africa.
The Genographic project is a mutliyear research initiative of the National Geographic Society. The project was launched in 2005 by geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells, and it is currently led by anthropologist Dr. Miguel Vilar.
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